Division III Championship Preview: The University Athletic Association

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Championship season is officially in full swing. With NCAA Division III teams competing in over 30 different conference championship meets, it’s tough to keep track of them all, but Swimming World will offer a preview of the action at the country’s fastest and deepest meets. Here’s a glimpse at what to expect at the University Athletic Association Championships.

Teams: Brandeis, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Chicago, Emory, NYU, Rochester, Washington-St. Louis

Location: University of Chicago

Dates: February 13-16

An overview: In 2018 Emory ran away with both titles while NYU came out on top of close races for second. The WashU men were less than 30 points behind the Violets and they look ready to make a real challenge for second.

On the women’s side Carnegie Mellon, Chicago, and WashU were third, fourth, and fifth, each less than 40 points behind NYU. With a strong freshman class and an improved Honore Collins the Violet women may be able to separate themselves from the field a bit more this year, but still don’t look like they’ll be in the same realm as the Eagles.

Here’s just six of the many great races to keep an eye on this weekend…

Women’s 1650

The Violets’ pure dominance in this event through the midpoint of the season is remarkable. Headed into conference championships, the NYU women held five of the ten fastest times in the country and seven of the top ten in their conference. While distance swimmers are not the most useful in the NCAA, this group is a spectacle.

Julia Durmer, a senior from Emory, won the mile at NCAAs in her sophomore year. She hasn’t quite returned to that form since, but has an opportunity here to take another step in the right direction (she was 17:29 in early November). She’ll have a tough training group of Violets to race to make that happen.

Women’s 200 Fly

The UAA has half of the top 16 women in the 200 fly as of the end of the dual meet season, including juniors Maria Turcanu of Emory and Collins of NYU in the number one and number two spots. The 200 fly was not even in Collins’ event lineup at UAAs or NCAAs last year, but she seems to have found her place in the event, as she’s apparently shifting away from a nationally crowded breaststroke field.

After winning the event her freshman year, Turcanu was a bit off in prelims last year and wound up ninth, before bouncing back at night. In an impressive field, the same challenge will present again this year: qualify for the A final to even have an opportunity to win the event.

Four freshmen are seeded in the top eight this year: Emory’s Clio Hancock and Alexandra Dixon, and Chicago’s Sandra Wong and Alice Ye.

Women’s 100 Free

Emory’s relay success in recent years has been notable, reliant on a strong sprint freestyle core. Last year that crew finished first through fifth (yes, that means somebody who could beat everybody else in the UAA didn’t even get a relay spot) in the 100 free.

While the Eagles graduated Ming Ong and Julia Wawer the team is still plenty talented. Fiona Muir is the only woman in the country to crack 50 seconds so far this year. Sophomore Lucy Daro is nearly a full second faster than she was last February, poised to move up this year.

Case Western, a team that has a tough time racking up significant points in this crowded conference has a top eight 100 freestyler, senior Suhan Mestha.

Collins will have to decide what to race, as she has the number three 100 free time, but is equally as impactful elsewhere.

Men’s 100 Breast

The men’s 100 breaststroke in the UAA is looking like a loaded event. Two men have already slipped under last year’s NCAA invited time and seven have earned a B cut, and there’s another handful in striking distance of the mark. There’s a more even mix of class years and schools at the top of this event than most, as well.

Chicago’s Reona Yamaguchi was the 2018 champion in 55.02, after finishing runner up to Andrew Wilson in 2017. Yamaguchi held off a tight field last year, just ahead of NYU senior Timothy Kou (55.08) and sophomore Giorgio Delgrosso (55.12).

This year, WashU is looking more threatening than the Violets, with Kevin Van Cleave (55.60) and Matthew Yang (55.82) taking the second and third spots behind Yamaguchi’s 55.56. While he’s no Wilson (yet?) Emory freshman Jason Hamilton was just behind that Bears duo in December with a 55.87. NYU still has a swimmer in the top five in senior Nianzhoug Liu (56.03). The depth is here, with the 13th seed under 57 seconds (56.87) and in striking distance of the NCAA B cut, a 56.23.

Men’s 200 Fly

WashU senior Brandon Lum is looking for a career sweep in the 200 fly. After walking in his freshman year and winning the event in UAA record fashion (1:48.99), he’s yet to lose. In a conference this strong, that’s a significant accomplishment.

In December, Lum swam a 1:47.52 at the Denison invite, the number two time in the nation as of the end of dual meets. Chicago’s duo George Reuter and Nick Ding were 1:48.33 and 1:48.77 in mid-November to make them fourth and sixth in the country.

Lum’s freshman teammate Sam Mahoney (1:49.77) and NYU’s Elan Oumarov (1:49.13) are also under 1:50.

Men’s 400 IM

Emory, Kenyon, and Denison absolutely own the top of the rankings in this one, but the Eagles have some in-conference competition as well. There are already seven UAA men under last year’s invited NCAA time (which will drop, with already 18 total men under).

What’s really remarkable? Freshman have ten of the UAA’s 11 fastest times, eight of those marks swum at same mid-season meet, the Denison Invitational. While this may be this crew’s first go at a Conference Championship, they’re clearly unphased by close, elite competition and will have the benefit of some familiar faces.

The non-freshman? That would be WashU’s senior Jordan Wheeler, last year’s runner up in the event.

Emory’s Zach Lorson appears tough to beat, heading into the weekend with a 3:51.86, over four seconds ahead of second, and nearly two faster than the country’s next best.

3 comments

  1. Betsy Harrison

    Great write up for Brandon Lum!

  2. M Ellen Villegas Rudel

    Jenn Dixon. Article written by my daughter’s asst swim coach! Awesome to all those lovely swimmen!

  3. avatar
    Johan

    Watch out for Brandon’s younger brother, Justin Lum, in the breast stroke events.
    Good luck, Brandon and Justin!